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Posts Tagged ‘proteste’

I due pesi e le due misure del potere

In Internazionale, politica on 15/12/2013 at 10:37

di Simone Rossi

Negli scorsi giorni abbiamo assistito al montare di tensioni e proteste ai tre cantoni del continente europeo. La reazione di chi detiene il potere è stata differente e ne rivela il pericoloso opportunismo.

Gli studenti universitari inglesi hanno inscenato cortei ed occupazioni in alcuni atenei per protestare contro la privatizzazione delle università e la trasformazione della formazione superiore in una vacca da mungere a vantaggio di investitori e speculatori privati. La reazione della polizia è stata inauditamente violenta ed un elevato numero di agenti sono stati utilizzati per la repressione dell’attivismo negli atenei. Decine di studenti sono stati arrestati, i cortei sono stati rotti dalle cariche, con studenti trascinati per le strade dove hanno lasciato qualche dente come obolo all’ordine pubblico.

In Italia esercenti, agricoltori, artigiani e lavoratori dipendenti sono scesi nelle strade per manifestare la propria esasperazione verso la crisi economica e le politiche insensate dell’Esecutivo. All’elemento spontaneo si associano organizzazioni palesemente fasciste che animano blocchi stradali, compiono atti intimidatori verso gli esercenti che non aderiscono alla protesta ed promuovono assalti alle camere del lavoro, come nei primi anni Venti. Tolto il tentativo di rimuovere alcuni blocchi stradali, le autorità non hanno imposto la militarizzazione del territorio come in Valle di Susa. Non abbiamo assistito alla caccia all’uomo per le strade delle città come nel 2001 a Genova o come durante le manifestazioni studentesche tre anni fa, i manganelli non si sono alzati ed i lacrimogeni non sono stati lanciati ad altezza uomo come quando a protestare erano i pastori ed i minatori sardi, o i cittadini napoletani contrari alla nuova discarica, o gli aquilani che reclamavano la ricostruzione della loro città.

In Ucraina, infine, accresce la tensione tra il Governo ed i manifestanti che da una settimana tengono sotto scacco il centro della capitale Kiev per protestare contro la decisione di interrompere i colloqui di associazione all’Unione Europea. Oltre a presidiare la Piazza dell’Indipendenza, i manifestanti hanno assaltato edifici governativi e preso di mira le sedi dei partiti filo-russi, nonché abbattuto una statua di Lenin, mandando in estasi una parte della stampa occidentale che evidentemente pensa di vivere nel 1989. Come in Italia, simboli e slogan fascisti hanno accompagnato le proteste. In risposta le autorità hanno inizialmente cercato di rimuovere presidi ed occupazioni con la forza per poi limitare la propria azione coercitiva al mantenimento della circolazione stradale ed alla protezione degli edifici sotto assedio.

Con sprezzo del ridicolo, i rappresentanti politici dei Paesi occidentali e dell’Unione Europea hanno ripreso le autorità ucraine che, a loro dire, dovrebbero ascoltare le richieste dei manifestanti e mediare, magari riprendendo i negoziati. Un atteggiamento, quello conciliante, che non si è visto negli ultimi lustri quando a manifestare erano cittadini che si opponevano alla globalizzazione neoliberista, alle politiche di austerità, allo sfruttamento del territorio. La corona di ipocrita dell’anno, tuttavia, andrebbe conferita al Segretario di Stato degli USA, che ha avuto l’ardire di dare una lezione di democrazia agli ucraini, pur avendo le autorità del suo Paese utilizzato una forza ed una violenza spropositate contro quei presidii di cittadini che comunemente vanno sotto la sigla Occupy.

La volta del Perù. Studenti e lavoratori in piazza

In Internazionale on 06/07/2013 at 23:08

di Simone Rossi
Nella settimana appena trascorsa il Perù si è aggiunto alla lista di Paesi latinoamericani in fermento. Dopo il Cile, dove studenti e lavoratori sono scesi in piazza ogni mese negli ultimi due anni contro il modello privatistico dell’Istruzione ed il sistema economico che causa le grandi disuguaglianze sociali del paese, dopo il Brasile, in cui sono scesi in piazza oltre un milione di cittadini nell’ultimo mese per chiedere partecipazione democratica e migliori servizi pubblici, negli scorsi giorni migliaia di lavoratori del pubblico impiego e studenti hanno marciato per le strade di Lima, come non si vedeva da un ventennio. L’oggetto delle proteste sono la Legge Universitaria, in fase di discussione al Congresso, e la Legge del Servizio Pubblico, approvata martedì. La prima, qualora passasse, porterebbe alla creazione di una Sovrintendenza Nazionale dell’Università, posta sotto il controllo diretto dell’Esecutivo; il che, secondo gli studenti, minerebbe l’autonomia degli atenei e comunque non farebbe presagire alcunché di positivo in termini di libertà di insegnamento e di ricerca. Nelle intenzioni del Governo la nuova legislazione sul servizio pubblico incrementerà l’efficienza e la qualità del servizio pubblico; tuttavia la Confederazione Generale dei Lavoratori del Perù ed i dipendenti pubblici che rappresenta ritengono che la legge minerà i diritti sindacali ed alla contrattazione collettiva, nonché servirà ad attaccare la stabilità dell’impiego ed aprirà la strada a licenziamenti.
Come in Cile ed in Brasile, le proteste hanno assunto un risvolto violento, il solo messo in evidenza dai mezzi di informazione nazionali e stranieri, con decine di arresti. A differenza della collega brasiliana Rousseff, il presidente Ollanta Humala, anch’egli collocato a Sinistra, non ha mostrato empatia con la causa dei manifestanti ed ha dichiarato che la riforma del Pubblico Impiego non causerà licenziamenti massicci. C’è da auspicare abbia ragione sebbene la vicinanza del governo peruviano a quello statunitense e le politiche di chiara marca liberista attuate negli scorsi anni facciano immaginare che l’ondata rossa/rosa che a toccato i paesi più grandi dell’America Latina non riesca a tingere le Ande.

Le rivolte che scuotono il mondo intero – 2

In Da altri media on 26/06/2013 at 09:15

GLOBAL PROTEST GROWS AS CITIZENS LOSE FAITHS IN POLITCS AND THE STATE

di Peter Beaumont

da The Observer

The demonstrations in Brazil began after a small rise in bus fares triggered mass protests. Within days this had become a nationwide movement whose concerns had spread far beyond fares: more than a million people were on the streets shouting about everything from corruption to the cost of living to the amount of money being spent on the World Cup.

In Turkey, it was a similar story. A protest over the future of a city park in Istanbul – violently disrupted by police – snowballed too into something bigger, a wider-ranging political confrontation with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has scarcely been brought to a close by last weekend’s clearing of Gezi Park.

If the recent scenes have seemed familiar, it is because they shared common features: viral, loosely organised with fractured messages and mostly taking place in urban public locations.

Unlike the protest movement of 1968 or even the end of Soviet influence in eastern Europe in 1989, these are movements with few discernible leaders and often conflicting ideologies. Their points of reference are not even necessarily ideological but take inspiration from other protests, including those of the Arab spring and the Occupy movement. The result has seen a wave of social movements – sometimes short-lived – from Wall Street to Tel Aviv and from Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, often engaging younger, better educated and wealthier members of society.

What is striking for those who, like myself, have covered these protests is often how discursive and open-ended they are. People go not necessarily to hear a message but to take over a location and discuss their discontents (even if the stunning consequence can be the fall of an autocratic leader such as Egypt‘s Hosni Mubarak).

If the “new protest” can be summed up, it is not in specifics of the complaints but in a wider idea about organisation encapsulated on a banner spotted in Brazil last week: “We are the social network.”

In Brazil the varied banners underlined the difficulty of easy categorisation as protesters held aloft signs expressing a range of demands from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics two years later.

“It’s sort of a Catch-22,” Rodrigues da Cunha, a 63-year-old protester told the Associated Press. “On the one hand we need some sort of leadership, on the other we don’t want this to be compromised by being affiliated with any political party.”

As the Economist pointed out last week, while mass movements in Britain, France, Sweden and Turkey have been inspired by a variety of causes, including falling living standards, authoritarian government and worries about immigration, Brazil does not fit the picture, with youth unemployment at a record low and enjoying the biggest leap in living standards in the country’s history.

So what’s going on? An examination of the global Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a loose correlation between the ranking of a country on the trust scale and the likelihood of protests. The trust barometer is a measure of public confidence in institutions compiled by the US firm Edelman, the world’s largest privately owned PR company.

In 2011, at the time the Occupy movement was being born in Zuccoti Park on Wall Street, the UK and the US were both firmly placed at the bottom of the “distrusters” while Brazil topped the “trusters”. By this year Brazil had dropped 30 points on the table, while Spain and Turkey, which have both seen protests this year, were both in the distrusted category.

Paul Mason, economics editor of BBC2’s Newsnight and author of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, has argued that a key factor, largely driven by new communication technologies, is that people have not only a better understanding of power but are more aware of its abuse, both economically and politically.

Mason believes we are in the midst of a “revolution caused by the near collapse of free-market capitalism combined with an upswing in technical innovation” – but not everyone is so convinced.

What does ring true, however, is his assertion that a driving force from Tahrir Square to Occupy is a redefinition of notions of both what “freedom” means and its relationship to governments that seem ever more distant. It is significant, too, that many recent protests have taken place in the large cities that have been most transformed by neoliberal policies.

Tali Hatuka, an Israeli urban geographer, whose book on the new forms of protest will be published next year, identifies the mass mobilisations against the Iraq war in 2003 as a turning point in how people protest. Hatuka argues that, while previous large public protests had tended to be focused and narrow in their organisation, the Iraq war protests saw demonstrations in 800 cities globally which encompassed and tolerated a wide variety of outlooks.

“Most recently,” Hatuka wrote in the journal Geopolitics last year, “this spirit has characterised the Arab spring and New York’s Occupy Wall Street, which were protests based on informal leadership and a multitude of voices.”

“Up to the 1990s,” she said last week, “protests tended to be organised around a pyramid structure with a centralised leadership. As much effort went into the planning as into the protest itself. And the [impact on the] day after the protest was as significant as the event itself. Now protest is organised more like a network. It is far more informal, the event itself often being immediate.”

Hatuka cautions against generalising too much – distinguishing between the events of the Arab spring, where mass protests were able to remove regimes, and protests in western democracies. But she does point to how the new form of protest tends to produce fractured and temporary alliances.

“If you compare what we are seeing today with the civil rights movement in the US – even the movements of 1989 – those were much more cohesive. Now the event itself is the message. The question is whether that is enough.”

She suspects it is not, pointing to how present-day activism – from the Iraq war demonstrations onwards – has often failed to deliver concrete results with its impact often fizzling out. Because of this, current forms of protest may be a temporary phenomenon and may be forced to change.

Another key feature of the new protests, argues Saskia Sassen, a sociology professor at Columbia University, New York, is the notion of “occupation” – which has not been confined to the obvious tactics of the Occupy movement. Occupations of different kinds have occurred in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and during widespread social protests in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, in 2011.

“Occupying is not the same as demonstrating. Many of the [recent] protests made legible the fact that occupying makes novel territory, and thereby a bit of history, using what was previously considered merely ground,” Sassen wrote recently. “Whether in Egypt, the US, or elsewhere, it is important that the aim of the occupiers is not to grab power. They were and are, rather, engaged in the work of citizenship, exposing deep flaws and wrongs in their polity and society.

“This is a very peculiar moment,” Sassen told the Observer. “This form of protest is very amorphous in comparison with the movements that came before.” She argues that one distinguishing factor is that many of the protest movements of the past decade have been defined by the involvement of what she calls “the modest middle class”, who have often been beneficiaries of the systems they are protesting against but whose positions have been eroded by neoliberal economic policies that have seen both distribution of wealth and opportunities captured by a narrowing minority. As people have come to feel more distant from government and economic institutions, a large part of the new mass forms of dissent has come to be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate ideas of “citizenship”.

“Often what people are saying is that you are the state. I’m a citizen. I’ve done my job. You’re not recognising that.”

Sassen’s belief that many of the recent protests are middle-class-driven appeared to be confirmed overtly – in the case of Brazil, at least – by President Dilma Rousseff, when she acknowledged that the new middle classes “want more and have the right to more”.

For an older generation of political theorists, as Sassen admits, not least those from a Marxist background, the current trends have sometimes been puzzling. “I remember talking to [British Marxist historian] Eric Hobsbawm – a dear friend. He asked me: ‘What’s up [with Occupy]?’ I said it is a very interesting movement. But his reply was: ‘If there is no party, then there’s no future.'”

Indeed, it was precisely this concern two years ago that led Malcolm Gladwell – in a controversial essay for the New Yorker, Small change: why the revolution will not be tweeted – to ask a similar question: whether networks of activists modelled on social media and with “weak tie-ins” can sustain themselves in the long run.

“The old pyramid way of organising protests does have its limitations, but so too do the new ways of organising,” says Hatuka. “Often it does not feel very effective in the long run. People will often go for a day or two and these protests are not necessarily offering an ideological alternative.”

Le rivolte che scuotono il mondo intero-1

In Da altri media on 24/06/2013 at 08:46

Da oggi pubblichiamo una serie di articoli – divisi in più post e più giornate per comodità di lettura – che ci spiegano le cause delle rivolte che stanno ormai scoppiando ovunque. Rivolte diverse nelle motivazioni e spesso anche nei modi, con ceti sociali non sempre simili, con situaizoni economiche assai diverse, dalla crisi del capitalismo occidentale alle ineguaglianze dei BRICS, da paesi come la Grecia dove i servizi pubblici vengono tagliati, ad altri come il Brasile dove gli standard di vita sono in netto miglioramento. Una protesta politica ma senza partito, una protesta che è naturalmente di sinistra ma senza una ideologia, una protesta che ha a volte obiettivi e bersagli concreti ed a volte ci parla solo di un disagio continuo.

WHY ARE THE BRICS CRUMBLING? WELCOME TO THE PERMANENT REVOLUTION

di Paul Mason

da The Indipendent

Tear gas cannot stop it. Not even when fired point blank into the faces of protesters. State censorship is powerless against it. The bloodless prose of the official media cannot encompass it. But what is it? What is the force that put a million people on the streets of Brazil on Thursday, turned Turkey’s major cities into battlefields and – even now – bubbles under from Sofia to Sarajevo?

The answer is in the detail: the self-shot videos, the jokes scrawled on handwritten signs, the ever-morphing hashtags on Twitter and the Guy Fawkes masks. Brazil’s protests may have started over the equivalent of a 5p rise in bus fares, but the chants and placards in Rio speak to something different: “We’ve come from Facebook”, “We are the social network”, and in English: “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are changing Brazil”.

The bus-fare protest in Sao Paulo involved, at first, maybe a few thousand young activists. There was CS gas, burning barricades, some Molotovs and riot shields, but never enough to stop the traffic, which flowed, surreally, past it all. When police arrested 60 people, including a prominent journalist, for possessing vinegar (to dull the sting of tear gas), it became the “Salad Revolution”. Then, last weekend, tens of thousands turned into hundreds of thousands, and the protests spread to every major town.

It’s clear, now, what it’s about. Brazil’s economic rise has been spectacular – but as in most of the so-called Bric countries it has involved increased inequality, exacerbated corruption and the prioritisation of infrastructure over public services. “Less stadiums, more hospitals,” reads one plaintive placard. The fact that the whole process was fronted by the relatively liberal and pro-poor Workers’ Party led, for a time, to acquiescence. The government sold the idea that hosting the World Cup, clearing some of the slums and pacifying the rest with heavy policing, together with a new transport system in the major cities, would complete Brazil’s emergence as a developed country.

But the World Cup is draining money from public services; the cost of the urban transport system is squeezing the lower middle class. And blatant corruption enrages a generation of people who can see it all reported on social media, even if the mainstream TV ignores it.

If this were just one explosion it would be signal enough that the economic model for the so-called emerging markets – rapid development at the cost of rising inequality – is running out of democratic headroom. But the same social forces were on the streets of Istanbul. The same grievances forced the Bulgarian government to sack its recently appointed and seemingly professionally unqualified state security chief on Wednesday.

In Turkey’s Taksim Square, as the tear gas drifted, roaming around with a microphone was a bit like being at a graduate careers fair. What do you do, I would ask. They would be always young, often female, and in perfect English reel off their professions from beneath their balaclavas: doctor, lawyer, marketing exec, shipping, architect, designer.

This too is one of the fastest developing countries on earth. And here too there was a mixture of economic grievance and concern about freedom. Some complained that, despite the growth, all the wealth was being creamed off by a corrupt elite. At the same time, the ruling AK Party, with its religious base, was seen as encouraging what the Turkish fashion writer Idil Tabanca has called “a growing unspoken air of animosity toward the modern”.

And everywhere there is protest – from Taksim and the Maracana Stadium to the Greek riots and Spanish indignados of two years ago – there is “non-lethal” policing that seems designed to turn passive bank clerks into bandanna-wearing radicals. It is striking that in both Brazil and Turkey, excessive force against peaceful demonstrators was the moment that turned a local protest into a globally significant revolt.

But the grievances, in the end, tell only half the story. It is the demographics, the technology and the zeitgeist that make the wave of current protests seem historic. Look first at the symbolism: the V for Vendetta mask is everywhere now – but it originated as the signifier of the Anonymous hacker movement. The hand-scrawled placard signifies a revolt not just against the state but against the old forms of hierarchical protest, where everybody chanted the same thing and followed leaders. In every tent camp protest I have ever been in, it is clear that the unspoken intention is to create a miniature utopia.

Velocity of information matters as much as action itself. It is striking how badly the incumbent elites in each case totally lose the information war. Whether it’s Greece, Turkey, Egypt or Brazil the unspoken truth is it is hard to gain a voice in the official media unless you are part of the in-group. This creates the mindset that drove Egyptian TV to ignore Tahrir, and Turkish TV to replace 24-hour news with cookery programmes as the fighting raged outside their studios. But it doesn’t work. People have instant access not just to the words, stills and videos coming from the streets, but to publish it themselves. As a result, when crisis hits, the volume of “peer to peer” communication – your iPhone to my Android, my tweet to your uploaded video – overwhelms any volume of information a state TV channel can put out. And when it comes to the content of the “memes” through which this generation communicates, the protesters and their allies find suddenly that everything they are saying to each other makes sense, and that everything the elite tries to say becomes risible nonsense.

In each case – from Egypt, through Greece, Spain and the Russian election protests – the revolt was already there, simmering in cyberspace. And in each case, the ultimate grievance was the difference between how life could be for the educated young, and how it actually is. They want a liberal, more equal capitalism, with more livable cities, and more personal freedom. But who will provide it?

Each time the movement subsides, the old generation’s commentators declare it dead, overhyped, romanticised in the heat of the moment. But the protests keep coming back. In 1989, we learned that people prefer individual freedom to communism. Today, in many countries, it is capitalism that is associated with cronyism, repressive force and elite politics, and until that changes, this Human Spring looks likely to continue.

La primavera turca parla a tutta l’Europa

In Internazionale on 02/06/2013 at 10:40

Le proteste di Istanbul ci dovrebbero insegnare qualche cosa. In primo luogo, il capitalismo semi-democratico – quello che spesso ci viene indicato come nuovo modello di riferimento, come nell’articolo qui a fianco – non è la soluzione ai problemi dell’Europa o del mondo. L’economia turca non è in crisi, tutt’altro. Mentre l’Europa va a picco, a Istanbul e Ankara si macinano profitti. Eppure la gente, i giovani (la Turchia è uno dei paesi più giovani del mondo) protestano. Primo, sopravvivere, è sempre stato il motto dei regimi autoritari, ma panem et circensem non bastano più, almeno sul Bosforo. I giovani turchi, quelli veri, vogliono poter dire la loro, vogliono una democrazia partecipata e nel vero interesse del popolo, non ad uso dei soliti noti.

Antepongono le ragioni della loro società e della loro generazione al profitto, alla bizzarra e fallimentare idea di progresso spacciata da media, politici ed establishment economico. Fossero in Italia, sarebbero tacciati di regressismo, di far parte della solita retrograda logica del NIMBY – not in my backyard. Sarebbero dei NO TAV perchè invece di un centro commerciale che porta soldi (e profitti, e investimenti, e lavoro, e crescita, almeno così dicono..) vogliono salvare un parco e i suoi alberi, o una vecchia pasticceria simbolo della città. Non diversamente da quei tanti valsusini, piemontesi ed italiani che vogliono salvare la loro montagna, il loro territorio, la loro storia. E che in Italia sono trattati da teppisti, violenti, terroristi e comunque fuori dalla storia. Mentre in Turchia sono il simbolo della democrazia.

Questi giovani turchi raccolgono idealmente la fiamma di Occupy Wall Street e di Zuccotti Park, e degli Indignados spagnoli. Sono il 99%, quelli mai ascoltati, quelli sempre esclusi, quelli le cui ragioni, i cui bisogni vegnono sempre dopo i profitti e gli interessi delle imprese. E che ora hanno cominciato ad alzare la testa.